*An update to this post: We are now living back home in Canada, and it is so wonderful to see poppies everywhere leading up to Remembrance Day.

Let me start by saying that as a Canadian living in the U.S., I am always amazed at how fiercely patriotic this country is, not just on Veteran’s Day (as it’s called here), but every day of the year.

That is a good thing, and something Canadians could use a little more of.

A few years ago when running a Veteran’s Day 10 K race in The Woodlands, I got choked up as I was running through a residential neighborhood where residents had placed little American flags at the end of their driveways and cheered on the runners.

The spectators were simply saying, “Thank you,” to the veterans who were also running that day, some of them with injuries and physical limitations. It was very moving.  It made me ignore the soreness in my own legs and tightness in my chest.

But, there’s something missing here in the U.S. on Remembrance Day (as we call it in Canada) and it’s the poppy. That beautiful showy red flower that has been used to commemorate veterans killed in all conflicts since 1914. Using the poppy as a sign of remembrance was inspired by the poem In Flander’s Field, which is considered mandatory reading in all Canadian elementary schools.

images-1

We wear these small artificial poppies on our lapels leading up to and on November 11th. When working as a television reporter in Canada, it was very important that we wear these on air to show our respect. Everybody wore poppies, it’s just something I grew up with. It is just strange to me that I don’t see poppies anywhere here. I miss them, for some reason it just makes it that much more visible to everyone; especially kids. I had to remind one of my daughters that it was Remembrance Day today and I can’t help but think that if we’d all been wearing poppies for the last week, maybe it would have been a little more top of mind?

And what about those Veteran’s Day sales? That gives me an uncomfortable feeling. I’d like to know how veterans feel about these, but it seems like retail stores will use ANYTHING to promote their products. I just heard a TV add promoting special Veteran’s Day pricing on furniture. Hmmm…just feels weird to me. In Canada, there is a move underway to persuade retailers not to decorate for Christmas before Remembrance Day. Brett Wilson, an influential businessman, is urging retailers to wait…just wait, as a sign of respect.

Here’s what I do like. I like it when schools make a big deal out of Veteran’s Day and ask the students to think…really think about what it’s like to serve your country. My daughter’s 8th-grade class was asked to complete a history project which involved finding and interviewing a vet and making a colorful poster to honor that person. The display is up today at the school, and people have been stopping by this week to take it all in. It is breathtaking to see them all in a row like that. Wow.

My daughter heard from her vet about fighting in Vietnam, how he lost some of his friends on the battlefield and how many people returned home from the war and were never “right” again. Now, my daughter understands what PTSD is.

dsc03649

So, on this day, poppy or no poppy, let’s just remember. And say thank you.

 

Michelle

Author Michelle

More posts by Michelle

Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • sab51 says:

    Beautiful post Michelle. I have to admire the teacher of your daughter for his admirable home work request.No one should ever forgot those who fought for their countries.
    We are wearing poppies too in Europe.

  • sab51 says:

    I read one similar post or maybe the same tho. I dont really have an opinion about the color of my poppies. By having my country strongly involved during the 2 world wars ( I’m French) and also my family, I do respect a lots our soldiers who fought for our today freedom.
    One of my nan, who was Polish, has been prisoner for 5 years in Nazis camp in Germany.
    My thought would be that the red color represents the blood paid by our soldiers during conflicts and it’s a way to remind to everyone what is the price of the freedom.

  • yvonnekli says:

    The poppy is something that I associate very strongly with Remembrance Day and even from the time I was in elementary school, we wore them as a sign of respect so I think I would miss them too if they weren’t around. While some people may argue that the poppy is just a symbol, it’s an important one and I was wholly unaware that they weren’t worn in the United States; thank you for sharing that information.

  • It seems like I’ve always seen poppies around here in the US too…but you are right, I was downtown today and didn’t see a single one. It is difficult to understand what our soldiers go through to defend freedom, and I’m thankful for them.

  • wainscotte says:

    That is an interesting perspective on Veteran’s Day (Remembrance Day). I too like the assignment the teacher gave to your daughter. The display of the posters at the school and your daughter now understanding what “PTSD” is will probably have more of an impact on her than just hearing or reading about it.

    I know that they wear poppies in the UK as well, as I’ve seen celebrities interviewed on shows around that time of year wearing the poppies.

    It’s interesting that you bring up the Veteran’s Day sales. I don’t know what to say about that. I never thought about before. I definitely think retailers seem to decorate for Christmas earlier and earlier each year, and I was driving the other day, scanning the stations and I did hear a Christmas song on the radio (not a fan of hearing Christmas music before Thanksgiving particularly, as it just doesn’t feel like the Christmas season until we’ve Thanksgiving), so it just seems like Christmas comes earlier and earlier each year, but I don’t know if there is any connection between Veteran’s Day per say and being disrespectful. Some restaurants have Veteran’s Day discounts, but I did notice that Outback Steakhouse, my dad’s (who is a Navy Veteran) favorite restaurant, is not just giving the discount for Veteran’s Day, but military members can get 15% off their entire check from 11/12 – 12/31, which I think is nice.

  • Sue says:

    Such a great idea to encourage children to understand and meet Veterans. As someone with a husband who was a Vietnam Vet and suffers PTSD it is good to see that there are moves to remove the stigma and increase understand of what veterans experience. We celebrate Remembrance Day in Australia and yes we have poppies as well. Lovely post.

  • I would love it if there was a way to get retailers to hold off on Christmas promotions until after Veteran’s Day. That is such a great idea. It seems like there is such a rush to start Christmas that important days like this can get overlooked. Great post.

  • Thank you for sharing your wonderful post at #OverTheMoon. I look forward to what you will share next week! Do something special. Give yourself a standing ovation today! We hope you’ll come back again next Sunday when we open our doors at 6:00 PM EST. “Like” someone in person today!

Leave a Reply